PPC union expecting further details on DEDDIE sale plan

Genop, the power utility PPC’s main main workers’ union, has not rejected a government plan aiming for the sale of a 49 percent minority stake of distribution network operator DEDDIE/HEDNO, a power utility subsidiary, but is demanding further details, including the sale procedure’s terms, so that it can position itself on the matter.

The newly elected conservative New Democracy government has included the sale, to a strategic investor, of a minority stake of DEDDIE in a PPC rescue plan aiming to inject roughly 500 million euros into the power utility.

Genop has insisted PPC’s financial position is not worrisome, attributing, along with the state-controlled power corporation’s outgoing administration, the power utility’s poor results of late to external factors.

The union will face the dilemma of accepting a DEDDIE sale over the disinvestment of PPC hydropower units. The latter was seen as the most probable scenario up until the July 7 elections that brought the ND party into power.

Genop union representatives met with energy minister Costis Hatzidakis last week but were not given details on the PPC rescue and restructuring plan.

According to sources, the union will set two conditions before discussing further the PPC plan with the government. One condition will restrict the DEDDIE sale to a minority stake and demand the maintenance of a majority stake for PPC, not the Greek State. The second condition will call for the Greek government to reach a competition-related agreement with the European Commission that would keep PPC’s hydropower units out of the picture.

 

PPC lignite units sale headed for new deadline extension

The main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale of lignite units, representing 40 percent of its overall lignite capacity, is headed for yet another deadline extension beyond the current January 7 date for binding bids, energypress sources have informed following a meeting between the power utility’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis and Genop union leaders, staged on the eve of Christmas.

At this stage, January 25 appears to be the likeliest new date for binding bids.

Prospective buyers want all procedures for a voluntary exit plan concerning 1,248 employees at the Megalopoli and Meliti power stations, both incurring losses, to be  completed before they submit any binding bids. According to energypress sources, a January 10 deadline has been set for the voluntary exit plan.

PPC included the voluntary exit plan to the disinvestment’s sales and purchase agreement (SPA) terms as an incentive.

Losses incurred at the Megalopoli and Meliti power stations and the unfavorable overall conditions concerning lignite as an energy source are two factors believed to be keeping investor offer plans at subdued levels.

A total of 1,017 staff members are employed at the Megalopoli facilities and 231 at Meliti. Investors have called for a reduction of 600 workers at both units. This means the Meliti power station would be left with 120 workers and Megalopoli with 480. Unionists are questioning whether such a target is attainable.

Employees accepting the voluntary exit plan stand to receive severance pay of 15,000 euros and a bonus amount worth 5,000 euros.

Other key incentives offered to investors in the SPA include Brussels-endorsed CAT remuneration of between 35,000 and 40,000 euros per MW for lignite-fired power production over a six-year period; a steady lignite supply price by PPC for the Meliti power station until a dispute concerning the nearby lignite mines in Florina is resolved; and the elimination of a lignite surcharge, already ratified in parliament and factored into investor equations.

 

Union action no threat to PPC, ELPE sales, officials assure

The energy ministry and TAIPED, the state privatization fund, have both reassured respective action taken by union groups representing the main power utility PPC and ELPE (Hellenic Petroleum) will not disrupt ongoing privatization efforts for either.

All necessary steps have been made to ensure smooth progress of a bailout-required sale of PPC lignite units and mines representing 40 percent of the power utility’s lignite capacity, the energy ministry has  declared.

As for the ELPE sale, TAIPED – representing the Greek State, offering 20.5 of its 35.5 percent stake along with Paneuropean’s 30.47 percent of 45.47 percent held – has opted not to comment on the mobilization efforts of PSEEP, the ELPE workers union group, suggesting it does not fear a disruption of the 50.1 percent sale.

Genop, the PPC union, has filed a case to the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, seeking a rejection of environmental terms concerning the Meliti power facility included in PPC’s sale package. This move’s ultimate aim is to delay the overall sale.

PSEEP has taken triple action, filing its ELPE case to the local Capital Market Commission, which has prompted a public offering procedure dispute, London bourse authorities, and European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions (PETI), believing a violation of European law exists.

 

Union cites PPC employee asset rights in European Court case

Genop, the power utility PPC’s main union, has resorted to an older argument used as an attempt to stop the split and sale of power grid operator IPTO, a former subsidiary, by citing PPC employee asset ownership rights in an effort to delay the bailout-required disinvestment of PPC lignite units and mines, representing 40 percent of the power utility’s overall lignite capacity.

The union, in a case prepared for the European Court, contends that PPC employee and retired personnel asset ownership rights have been incorporated into the company as a result of social security contributions withheld by PPC.

Genop used the same argument, more or less, in a case filed about a year ago to the European Court against the sale of 24 percent stake of IPTO to the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC). Though the European Court has yet to deliver a verdict on the matter, neither the IPTO sale nor its operation under an entirely new ownership set-up, were obstructed.

Genop was encouraged to also resort to European Court action against the PPC disinvestment obligation as the union is counting on the pending IPTO-related verdict.

The union group is basing its worker asset co-ownership rights case on an agreement reached in 1999 between the then-Development Ministry and Genop over social security issues for personnel ahead of PPC’s bourse listing.

 

PPC union attacks utility over unit upgrades, consultation cost

Genop, the power utility PPC’s main union, has unleashed a wide-ranged attack on the utility’s administration by condemning upgrade projects of two pivotal power stations as well as the eventual cost of consulting services provided by McKinsey.

The union group also criticized the leadership’s handling of a bailout-required disinvestment of PPC lignite units and reiterated threats to intensify its protest activity with the aim of preventing the sales of lignite-fired power stations and mines, representing 40 percent of the power utility’s overall lignite capacity.

Genop alleged that serious problems hang over upgrades conducted at the Agios Dimitrios III and Agios Dimitrios IV power stations, planned to play crucial production roles at PPC following the disinvestments, while adding that high-cost desulphurization work at the facilities in not making good progress.

If these allegations are true, then PPC could have trouble operating the power stations as of 2020, following the end of an exemption to an EU law concerning power station emission limits for high-polluting units.

Also, work at Ptolemaida V, a new unit, is well behind schedule, Genop contended. This investment may not be sustainable if CAT payments for production are not secured, the union warned.

In its criticism of the amount paid by PPC to the consulting firm McKinsey for a business plan, the Genop union group alleged an initial 1.2 million-euro cost for the consulting services ended up reaching 1.8 million euros.

McKinsey was paid an additional 600,000 euros for a six-month extension to its contract with PPC as its initial report, presented in February, did not include crucial issues such as the power utility’s debt restructuring plan, completed later, the union alleged.

 

 

PPC board meets over lignite units sale, appoints 4 consultants

The main power utility PPC board’s members, unable to convene yesterday at the company headquarters, currently occupied by the Genop union, successfully staged a teleconference session to vote on a bailout-required split-and-sale plan, the power utility has announced.

Eight board members voted in favor of the plan, two members – both worker representatives – voted against the plan, while one member cast a blank vote.

The PPC board endorsed Pricewaterhouse Business Solutions as a consultant for the split and sale process. SOL SA was approved as the certified accountant to prepare related reports on the asset value and debt to be taken by new owners. The PPC board also agreed to appoint HSBC Bank as a financial consultant and DLA Piper UK as the power utility’s legal consultant for the disinvestment. KPMG has been selected as the procedure’s monitoring trustee for the European Commission.

Over the past few days, the Genop union had sought ways to stop yesterday’s PPC board meeting. The union is expected to take action during various crucial stages of the sale process over the next few weeks and months in an effort to trouble and delay the overall procedure. Genop has pledged it will prevent any new owners from operating the facilities up for sale.

The PPC power stations and mines included in the sale package represent 40 percent of the utility’s overall lignite capacity.

The board will need to convene again on May 23 to reendorse terms concerning the split of lignite units and related accounting matters, and, most importantly, launch the tender.

A PPC general shareholders’ meeting on June 26 is an obvious target date for the union. On this day, shareholders are scheduled to meet and endorse the split plan, establish statutes for two new subsidiaries – carrying the lignite units – to be offered to investors, and also endorse the representatives involved in the procedure.

PPC board to meet via teleconference, union aims to stop lignite units sale

The main power utility PPC board’s members, unable to meet today at the company headquarters, currently occupied by the Genop union, will stage a teleconference session for a vote on a bailout-required split-and-sale plan of lignite units representing 40 percent of the utility’s lignite capacity.

The power utility’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis will present the plan’s details before board members express opinions and cast their votes. The PPC board’s decision to resort to a teleconference for such a significant company matter is unprecedented at the utility.

Over the past few days, the Genop union has sought ways to stop today’s board meeting. Though any intervention that could obstruct today’s teleconference is seen as difficult to achieve, the union is capable of conjuring up surprises.

Most likely, Genop will aim to delay a series of PPC board decisions leading to the announcement of the sale’s tender, scheduled for May 31. This essentially means that the power utility’s board will, from now on, need to grow accustomed to the idea of staging its lignite unit sale meetings as teleconference sessions.

The board will need to convene again on May 23 to reendorse terms concerning the split of lignite units and related accounting matters, and, most importantly, launch the tender.

A PPC general shareholders’ meeting on June 26 is an obvious target date for the union. On this day, shareholders are scheduled to meet and endorse the split plan, establish statutes for two new subsidiaries – carrying the lignite units – to be offered to investors, and also endorse representatives involved in the procedure.

PPC and the government will find themselves under bailout-related pressure if the international tender is launched in June or July, rather than May 31, as is scheduled, following Genop delays.

Contracts concerning the split plan and company statutes are planned to be signed a few days after the June 26 general shareholders’ meeting. This will end the first chapter of events targeted by the Genop union.

The union can then be expected to take aim again late in the year, when the international tender is scheduled to be completed – assuming investors do participate and meet the price tag to be set by valuators.

A third round of action by the union should be expected once the new owners of the lignite units arrive to take over. Genop has pledged it will prevent any new owners from operating the facilities.

It should be noted that if the international tender proves fruitless then Brussels officials will enter the picture and retable the idea of including PPC hydropower units to the sale. This is a dreaded thought for the government, which, in such a case, will seek to apply delay tactics, with reliable support from Genop. Next year’s pre-election period could seriously rattle the overall sale effort if it is delayed.

 

 

PPC union aims to intensify resistance against lignite sale

Genop, the main power utility PPC union, appears determined to derail the corporation’s bailout-required sale of lignite units, warning that yesterday’s occupation of PPC’s headquarters, which prevented the board from meeting to launch the lignite disinvestment procedure and endorse the hirings of consulting firms already selected, was just a prelude of action to come.

The union aims to delay, as much as possible, the announcement of the sale’s international tender, scheduled for May 31, and, generally, intimidate the PPC board by forcing it to work on the effort through teleconferences.

A series of steps and meetings are needed, as has just been detailed in a road map of the sale, including a board meeting on May 23, whose agenda includes endorsing terms concerning the split, from PPC, of lignite units to be sold, and also officially inviting investors to express interest.

Genop is also expected to intervene at a PPC shareholders’ meeting on June 26, when the overall sale plan is scheduled to be approved.

The union action may delay the sale’s developments but the procedure cannot be stopped. However, the announcement of the international tender in June or July, for example, rather than May 31, as is scheduled, would represent a setback.

PPC’s boss CEO Manolis Panagiotakis appears determined to complete the sale procedure as soon as possible but prospective investors do not seem prepared to offer major amounts for lignite units, fearing their business prospects are not good amid the current conditions shaped by the EU’s environmental policies.

Genop insists it will do all that it can to delay the sale. If the union succeeds and PPC misses its lignite unit sale deadlines, then hydropower facilities could consequently be brought into the sale picture, a dreaded throught for both the government and state-controlled PPC.

 

 

 

 

 

PPC union commences strike action, five power stations closed

Genop, the main power utility PPC union, commenced its planned series of 48-hour strikes late last night by interrupting operations at a total of five units to protest the power utility’s bailout-required sale of lignite units, representing 40 percent of the corporation’s lignite capacity.

Giorgos Adamidis, the union boss, who last night visited the Agios Dimitrios power facility in the country’s north, stressed to workers the significance and objectives of Genop’s strike action.

He promised the union does not intend to create electricity supply problems around the country as a result of the strikes.

The Genop chief noted that the installed capacity of the country’s grid, totalling 17,000 MW, is well over current demand levels of between 5,500 and 6,500 MW, during peak hours.

Also last night, PPC union officials took positions outside the gates of the corporation’s Kardia and Amynteo power stations to inform night-shift workers of the strike’s details and objectives.

Operations were stopped at three facilities in west Macedonia, the heart of Greece’s lignite territory. Agios Dimitrios I and II as well as Kardia II were shut down. A last-minute decision was made to keep Amynteo connected to the grid.

According to the union chief, a lignite-fired unit in Megalopoli and a natural gas-fueled staton in Lavrio, both part of the grid’s southern section, were also shut down.

“We are asking for the [PPC lignite sale plan’s] draft bill to be withdrawn from parliament which, as has been proven, will be a disaster for the [local economies] in western Macedonia and Megalopoli,” Adamidis, the Genop union boss, underlined.

The dangers for the region of the sale of PPC’s most competitive lignite units to the private sector will be explained by the union to MPs at a parliamentary production and trade committee today, the Genop boss noted.

Limited impact on grid expected from PPC strike action

Strike action organized by the main power utility PPC union Genop to protest parliament’s discussion of a draft bill concerning a bailout-required sale of lignite units is planned to begin late Sunday night.

PPC workers are determined to make consumers more aware of the sale plan, representing 40 percent of the utility’s lignite capacity, the union has announced.

Given the grid’s picture for today, all of PPC units would need to be withdrawn and nightime wind energy supply, when photovoltaics are not producing, must be insufficient, if an electricity shortage is to be prompted by the strike action.

Judging by today’s electricity plan, any problems that may arise in coming days will be limited and will concern evening peak hours between 8 and 11 pm.

According to today’s day-ahead market plan, total electricity demand amounts to 127,619 MWh, of which 50,600 MWh will be provided by thermal units. The rest of the demand will be covered by imports, renewable energy sources and hydropower units.

Slightly over half the aforementioned thermal supply, or nearly 33,000 MWh, will be provided by PPC units – three Agios Dimtrios units, two Kardia units, one Megalopoli unit, one Amynteo unit and one Aliveri unit.

Facilities operated by independent producers will contribute approximately 18,000 MWh.

Imports of up to 1,700 MW, depending on the System Marginal Price (SMP), could stem from Italy. Hydrpower facilities may provide between 1,000 and 1,500 MW. Renewable energy source input, when photovoltaic facilities are connected to the grid, can exceed 2,000 MW.

IPTO, the power grid operator, will be responsible for deciding whether supply shortages exist. If so, the operator will ask HEDNO/DEDDIE, the electricity distribution network operator, to proceed with supply cuts.

 

PPC lignite units sale plan in parliament, union reacting

A draft bill covering the main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale package of lignite units, submitted to parliament yesterday, is vague in sections concerning labor issues, which is providing further momentum to the strike action pursued by the utility’s union, Genop.

It is not made clear how many PPC workers will be transferred to the payrolls of the lignite unit buyers. The only specific form of protection offered to workers by the draft bill’s content is a term forbidding new owners to dismiss unit workers for a period of six years following the sale.

The terms of an older but unexecuted PPC sale plan that would have carved out and sold a section of the utility, locally dubbed “Little PPC”, included a job-security clause for all staff members of units that would have been sold. The current plan is vague on this matter.

Genop, the utility’s union, which is planning to stage a series of 48-hour strikes, has urged all MPs, in an open letter, to reject the draft bill, describing the sale plan as a “national crime.”

The draft bill, a 17-page document divided into nine articles, includes a time frame for fast-track procedures. The sale is scheduled to be announced in late May.

PPC needs to disinvest 40 percent of its lignite capacity. Two Megalopoli units, one Meliti unit, a license for a new unit in Meliti, as well as rights to mines feeding these units make up the sale package.

These will be divided into two companies, representing units in the north and south. Investors, it appears, will be able to submit offers for full ownership of one or both companies.

 

 

 

 

 

PPC union launches strike action as lignite sale plan legislation nears

Genop, the main power utility PPC’s union, will today launch its protest against a bailout-required sale plan offering 40 percent of the utility’s lignite facilities by occupying the utility’s Megalopoli lignite facility in the Peloponnese, one of a number of assets included in the lignite sale package.

The union has announced it will continue its action at the Megalopoli facility on Sunday and Monday with a series of work stoppages, by various employee groups, that will significantly limit the ability of the facility’s two lignite-fired units to operate.

PPC workers are planning to intensify their action with strikes to coincide with the submission to parliament of a draft bill for legislation concerning the sale plan. The draft bill is expected to be tabled slightly beyond the end of next week. Genop may stage 48-hour strikes, according to some sources.

At this stage, Genop and PPC’s workers appear determined to test the limits of both the government and grid, meaning an effort may be made for the withdrawal of many more units from the system, in addition to Megalopoli.

Genop sources have noted that the grid’s ability to cope will depend on electricity demand during the strikes.

The union plans to hold a general meeting on Monday to decide on the details of its planned action. An announcement may be made on Tuesday.

 

PPC union Genop seeking three-year salary and workers rights agreement

Genop, the power utility PPC’s main union, is seeking to secure a new three-year collective wage agreement for the utility’s staff, to take effect February, when the existing agreement expires, until 2021.

Much may change during this three-year period, including the transfer of 40 percent of PPC’s lignite units to private-sector companies, and the sale of a 17 percent stake. If actualized, these developments, included in the Greek bailout, promise to reduce PPC to roughly half its current size.

Genop officials are scheduled to meet with PPC’s board tomorrow. The union group’s main objective will be to maintain salaries at their current levels and protect various other worker rights for the next three years.

The union representatives are expected to apply pressure on the utility’s CEO Manolis Panagiotakis to maintain promises made concerning salary levels and worker rights.

Early this year, PPC sought to reduce its payroll by offering 15,000-euro bonuses to retirement-age workers still employed at the utility. The offer concerned some 200 employees, aged around 60, who were eligible for retirement but continued to work as a result of pension reductions. A total of 180 employees ended up accepting the offer, while 19 who refused ended up being fired. Four of these retrenchments were made recently, in September.

At present, PPC’s workforce numbers 10,600 employees at the parent company; a further 6,500 at DEDDIE, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator; as well as 1,400 employees at IPTO, the power grid operator.

 

PPC union group Genop to ‘fight’ against unit sales plan

Genop, the power utility PPC’s main union, is determined to do whatever it takes, from strike action and occupations of company facilities to legal action at Greek and European courts, in an attempt to stop the bailout-required sale of PPC units, its leader, Giorgos Adamidis, has stressed in an interview with energypress.

Adamidis promised the union’s fight will be even more stubborn than its reaction in 2014 to stop a previous PPC sale effort concerning the split and sale of a chunk of PPC, locally dubbed “Little PPC”.

The union is considering an initial gathering in Florina, northern Greece, as its campaign’s first step before following up with a series of other actions, the Genop leader informed.

Adamidis noted that the government should not be presenting its plan to extend the lifespans of state-controlled PPC’s ageing Amynteo and Kardia lignite-fired power stations as consolation for the sale of other utility units as this operating extension has stood as a firm demand by PPC and the corporation’s workers.

The Genop head described the goovernment’s PPC sale plan as a highly complex endeavor requiring time-consuming tasks such as evaluations and breakways from the utility’s core. Adamidis said he could not see any related sale procedure being announced before the end of 2018, regardless of the delays to be caused by Genop’s actions.

The prolonged sale effort will end up being inherited by the next government once the current administration’s term expires, Adamidis expects.

The Genop leader contended that the bailout’s terms for PPC go no further than requiring its electricity market share contraction to less than 50 percent by early 2020 as well as a production share drop to 50 percent.

 

Compensation issues the focus of PPC salary talks with union

Negotiations between Genop, the main union group at power utility PPC, and the utility’s board, for a new collective wage agreement concerning around 19,000 staff members and covering 2018 to 2021 are on the final stretch.

No major changes, compared to the current agreement, expiring in February next year, are being discussed. Once again, no salary increases will be possible as a result of a bailout-related ban on pay rises at all state-controlled firms and utilities until the end of 2018.

Instead, a series of technical issues are being focused on by the two sides, including a union push aiming to avoid offsetting retirement lump sums against compensation amounts offered for forced lay-offs.

This issue surfaced early this year when PPC decided to trim its payroll by offering roughly 200 pension-aged employees incentives, in the form of 15,000-euro bonuses, to retire. These staff members, most around 60 years old, were eligible for pensions but chose to keep working, propelled by pension cuts at state utilities.

Eventually, 180 employees accepted the voluntary retirement offer extended by the power utility, while 19 refused and were fired by PPC, four of these just days ago, on September 30.

At present, PPC’s payroll numbers 10,600 staff members, while a further 6,500 are employed at subsidiary firm HEDNO, the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator, locally acronymed DEDDIE, and 1,400 employees are on the payroll at IPTO, the power grid operator.

 

PPC sale package may include future units, union boss told

Prospective carbon-fired power stations still under construction or merely licensed for development may be included in main power utility PPC’s bailout-required sale package, which will need to represent about 40 percent of the utility’s total production capacity, energy ministry Giorgos Stathakis made clear during a meeting yesterday with the head of Genop, PPC’s main union, Giorgos Adamidis, according to sources.

This update implies the possible inclusion in the sale package of Ptolemaida V and Meliti II, two major PPC projects still at preliminary stages.

The meeting was dominated by the implications for the content of PPC’s sale package following an agreement reached a day earlier between the Greek government and the country’s lenders to conclude the bailout’s second review. An evaluation process of PPC units and mines, needed to determine the sale list’s content, was discussed.

PPC will need to have resolved this issue by July. The utility must hire a consultant to help prepare the sale package as soon as possible.

The production capacities of all PPC carbon-fired units, their expected life spans, and the energy-producing potential of mines need to be factored in when putting together the sale list. These three factors produce different results when applied in various combinations.

PPC’s current carbon-fired production capacity amounts to roughly 4,280 MW. Three years on, this figure is expected to drop to 2,480 MW as a result of the withdrawal of ageing facilities with a total production capacity of 1,800 MW. Carving out 40 percent of the utility’s production capacity for the bailout-required sale package would lead to different results depending on the timing of the proportion’s application.

A market test, expected to be held in autumn to measure the level of interest of investors in PPC’s carbon-fired units, may well fail to produce satisfactory results. In this case, hydropower stations would need to be added to make the package more enticing for investors, as was pointed out a few months earlier to the energy minister by an Elpedison energy firm official.

The addition of hydropower units would require piecing together a new PPC unit sale package, then staging a second market test, and, ultimately, shifting tenders from June, 2018 to later that year.

Such a delay would keep the contentious PPC sale issue alive on the eve of 2019, when national elections are due, assuming the current coalition completes its four-year mandate. The politically tricky task of selling PPC units may end up being inherited by the country’s next administration. Polls indicate that the main opposition conservative New Democracy party is well ahead.

PPC union Genop calls for referendum on planned unit sales

The state-controlled power utility PPC’s main union group Genop wants the government to stage a referendum before proceeding with a bailout-required sale of utility production units.

In comments offered to energypress, Genop boss Giorgos Adamidis noted that such a PPC-related request is not unprecedented. He reminded that the Syriza party, the coalition’s chief partner, had demanded a referendum in 2014 while still an opposition party, for the then-government’s plan to part-privatize PPC.

Syriza does not have the right to adopt PPC’s future as a key party policy when in opposition and then, once in power, neglect the issue, the Genop chief supported.

The power utility’s future is an issue that needs to be decided by the people, not one political party, Adamidis stressed.

“The sale of corporations of strategic importance is not a simple administrative act, especially when involving crucial facilities for production and distribution of basic needs [electricity and water], such as PPC’s carbon-fired and hydropower stations,” the Genop boss noted. “All administrations are obligated to hold referendums [on such issues].”

Genop’s general contact, around the country, with voters representing the wider political spectrum has indicated a broad opposition to the potential sale of PPC production units, the union boss argued in support of Genop’s demand for a referendum.

A market test planned for September, its intention being to measure the level of investor interest in PPC’s carbon-fired units, will not draw sufficient interest and, as a result, hydropower units will need to be added to the utility’s sale package, Genop anticipates.

At this stage, it appears that the country’s lenders want about 40 percent of PPC’s carbon-fired units to be included in the sales package.

Genop plans to intensify its initiatives against the sale plan and culminate action from September onwards.

 

 

 

PPC union to take legal action against looming unit sales

The power utility PPC’s main union group Genop, reacting to prospective bailout-required utility production unit sales and a split-and sale plan for the subsidiary power grid operator IPTO, now in progress, intends to start off its European Court action next week by filing a case to the Strasbourg court as a challenge against the IPTO sale.

The union group also plans to eventually take legal action against a bailout plan entailing the sale of PPC production units, details of which are still in the process of being formulated.

However, it is presumed that Genop will first wait for the results of a market test to be staged in September as a means of measuring investor interest in the PPC units. The test’s results will help determine which PPC units will be placed for sale. Subdued buyer interest in PPC’s lignite-fired stations will lead to the addition of hydropower stations to the package.

When the overall picture is clearer, Genop will initiate its challenge of the PPC unit sales at the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Administrative Court, and, if needed, then take its case to the European Court.

The Council of State has already rejected – with a 10-7 vote – a Genop challenge of the IPTO sale, which is why the union group is expected to take this case to the European Court next Tuesday.

The union group’s leadership will meet today with energy minister Giorgos Stathakis in provincial city Kozani, northern Greece.

The minister, who only recently accepted lender demands for the sale of PPC production units, is visiting the country’s north as the prospective sale of utility units is a sensitive issue in the wider region. The bulk of PPC’s lignite-fired power stations operate in northern Greece.

Returning to Genop’s decision to take legal action, the union, knowing that European Court verdicts take a considerable time to be delivered, hopes this anticipated delay will make prospective investors thing twice before proceeding with any PPC unit acquisitions.

In its legal action, the union is expected to claim that PPC workers possess ownership rights to PPC assets as a result of social security fund contributions made over the years, from the time of the corporation’s establishment in 1960 until 2001, when the utility was listed on the bourse.

In the meantime, as a first step, the union is expected to orchestrate protests, strikes and occupations of utility units. The legal action will come as the union’s second stage of action.

Though not publically discussed, a third step, if Genop fails to block the PPC unit sales, will entail talks with the new power production unit owners as an effort to protect jobs.

 

 

PPC, union to discuss utility’s planned pension-age job cuts

A plan by main power utility PPC to shed 200 jobs concerning pension-aged staff members who have opted to keep working is one of the issues on the agenda of a meeting to be held today between the uility’s CEO Manolis Panagiotakis and the leadership at Genop, PPC’s main union group.

Though PPC’s board had pledged to first discuss the job-cutting plan with the union before taking any decisions, the utility intends to press ahead with the move, included on the agenda of an upcoming board meeting scheduled for January 9, sources have informed.

According to these sources, 70 technicians, 75 engineers, 20 managers, as well as 15 administrative division employees are among the PPC workforce members who will be dismissed.

Genop has long expressed its strong disapproval of these planned job cuts, citing full severance pay will not be offered. The union has noted it would remove its objections to the job cuts if full compensation amounts are provided.

In recent years, a growing number of long-serving state utility employees qualified for pensions have opted to carry on working, driven by financial reasons amid the ongoing recession.

At PPC, for example, the number of retirees has been diminishing. A total of 2,500 pension-aged company employees retired in 2010. This figure slowed to 1,500 in 2011 and fell to levels of between 600 and 700 in more recent years. Last year’s retirement tally at the utility plummeted to just 150 persons. PPC’s percentage of retiring employees has fallen from rougly 4 percent of its total workforce to 1.5 percent.

Though the figures are unclear at other state utilities, similar trends are believed to be prevailing.

 

 

 

PPC union greets IPTO bidders with extrajudicial statements

Genop, the power utility PPC’s main union group, is preparing to further escalate its action against a government plan to split IPTO, the power grid operator, from the utility, the operator’s parent company, and partially privatize it, with extrajudicial statements that have been prepared by the union. These statements will now be forwarded to three strategic investors preparing to submit binding offers for a 24 percent stake of IPTO.

The union group’s extrajudicial statements, to be delivered to Italy’s Terna, France’s RTE and China’s State Grid, all through to the IPTO international tender’s second stage, will present Genop’s position on IPTO worker rights and contend that these are incorporated into the operator’s fixed assets, therefore constituting one of a number of issues that could lead to the nullification of any investments made in the Greek company.

The extrajudicial statements will also make clear to the three candidates the opposition of IPTO’s workers and union to the plan entailing the operator’s split from PPC and entry of a strategic investor, as well as the repercussions this disapproval may have on the management rights included in the tender.

Genop is intensifying its efforts, despite the relaxed wider activity amid the ongoing summer recess. The union’s move to prepare extrajudicial statements represents just part of an escalating campaign against IPTO’s split-and-sale plan. More intitiatives are soon expected.

Last month, Genop officials managed to stop proceedings at a recent PPC general shareholders meeting, held to endorse the IPTO plan, and then managed to interrupt the required follow-up meeting a week later, on July 11. It was shifted from its hotel location to the finance ministry and completed later in the day with reinforced police protection at hand.

Terna, RTE and China’s State Grid are preparing for due diligence procedures before they submit binding offers. All three firms are believed to be very keen on the IPTO investment, viewing it as a key step in their plans for a wider regional presence.

Under the current plan, besides the 24 percent of IPTO being offered to strategic investors, 51 percent will be transferred to the Greek State, while the other 25 percent will be offered to investors through the bourse. The Greek State controls PPC, the operator’s parent company, with a 51.12 percent stake.

 

 

PPC union firing up for next week’s shareholders meeting

The power utility PPC’s main union group Genop plans to take unspecified side action at this coming Monday’s general shareholders meeting in a bid to prevent the approval of the split and sale of PPC subsidiary IPTO, the power grid operator. Monday’s session is needed after last week’s meeting was disrupted by Genop union members.

Besides the IPTO sale plan, a bailout requirement, Genop unionists have been further enraged by the recent disclosure of a plan entailing the prospective transfer of an additional 34 percent of PPC to the country’s new super privatization fund.

The new fund will serve as a parent company for a number of subsidiaries. These include TAIPED, the existing State Privatization Fund, into which a 17 percent of PPC has already been transferred. The Greek State currently holds a 51.12 percent of PPC, including the 17 percent transfered to TAIPED.

Earlier this week, Genop’s leadership met with energy minister Panos Skourletis, who assured the unionists that IPTO employees will not suffer losses as a result of the IPTO split and sale from PPC.

According to the sale plan, the Greek State will take on a 51 percent of IPTO, a strategic investor will be offered between 20 and 24 percent, and the remainder will also be sold.

Skourletis warned the unionists that they will be held accountable for whatever consequences may occur if they disrupt proceedings once more at PPC’s general shareholders meeting this Monday.

The bailout’s IPTO breakaway plan underlines that if the international creditors conclude that satisfactory progress is not being made, especially on the effort to find a strategic investor, then IPTO will be fully privatized in 2017.

Genop held a meeting yesterday to shape their strategy for Monday. The union group has announced it will hold a three-hour work stoppage between 10am and 1pm on Monday, timed to coincide with the PPC shareholders meeting. No other information has been revealed. The union group is not expected to remain complacent.

Following last week’s controversial disruption, Genop members were warned by PPC that their stance could end up depriving the Greek State of its majority control over IPTO.

PPC union Genop preparing for more action against IPTO sale

The power utility PPC’s main union group Genop is planning to take further action in order to prevent the utility’s bailout-required plan concerning the split and sale of subsidiary firm IPTO, the power grid operator.

According to sources, the union’s leaders yesterday began laying down a plan to intensify resistance against the IPTO sale plan. The union may attempt, for a second time, to disrupt proceedings at PPC’s general shareholders meeting this coming Monday, required following the abrupt interruption of a session held on June 30 meeting. The Genop union president, Giorgos Adamidis, had just completed his speech when a small group of unionists controversially disrupted the previous meeting.

Crucial bailout-related decisions for IPTO need to be made, including offering approval of the IPTO split-and-sale plan, endorsing the return of IPTO capital to PPC, and announcing a tender for the sale of as much as a 24 percent share of IPTO to a strategic investor. The Greek State controls PPC with a 51.1 percent stake.

According to the sale plan, the Greek State will take on a 51 percent of IPTO, while the leftover stake, following the strategic investor’s acquisition, will also be sold.

Genop officials met yesterday with IPTO workers at the operator’s headquarters in Rouf, just southwest of central Athens, and reiterated their deep concern over the government’s IPTO plan.

PPC’s chief executive Manolis Panagiotakis and IPTO’s chairman Emmanuel Koroniotakis were both the focus of the ire expressed during the session. The two officials are being criticized for helping implement the IPTO breakaway plan despite having played leading roles in the block of opposers in the past.